Love your enemy - everyone can change: The Olympics

IssueDecember 2006 - January 2007
Comment by Kat Barton

London's 2012 Olympics have been taking a bit of a bashing in the mainstream press, but not being the type to jump on the bandwagon, PN attempts to take a rather more kindly look at this controversial project.

The modern Olympic Games began with the noble aim of promoting international understanding through sporting competition, and in the past the Games have seen country delegations as well as individual sportsmen and women promote understanding of some important political issues - such as Tommie Smith and John Carlos's black power podium gesture in 1968, and the various boycotts of the Games over the years. However, such politically-inspired outbursts are unlikely to be a feature of the 2012 Games, with demonstrations being banned from any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.

Unforeseen circumstances

Modern-day Olympics boast many more noble aims, though: for example, the promise made by Sebastian Coe, Chairman of London 2012, to boost young people's participation in sport, and the huge urban regeneration scheme in east London - which includes building 40,000 new homes. (Although neither the money nor the plans for these have materialised, they're still very much in the pipeline.) Not to mention all the money that will go to good causes - once £340 million has been channelled from existing sports lottery distributors to fund the Games. But £2.4billion is a small price to play for two weeks of sporting fun, or at least it was until it became £4.4billion. The unfortunate rise was due to unforeseen circumstances such as the decision to include inflation costs in the transport budget and VAT in the construction budget.

A thorough clean-up

Mind you, £4.4 billion is nothing compared with the costs of some Games, and spiralling costs are pretty standard fare too: Sydney 2000 ended up costing over twice pre-bid figures, Greece 2004 cost four times as much as its original budget, and Montreal 1976 still holds the record for the most expensive games in history at over $5 billion (equivalent to $20 billion in 2006).

Still, it's money well spent if you ask me, and the benefits for London could be huge. In Athens, a thorough clean-up was undertaken with homeless people being sent to mental institutions to get them off the streets where they might be seen. So, I reckon we've got to keep an open mind - after all, everyone can change - and if last month's revised figures are anything to go by, it looks like we'll be seeing a few more before 2012.

Topics: Culture
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